Choking Kink Statistics [2022]: Gasping for Pleasure

We went deep down the rabbit hole of choking kink facts and statistics and found out what it is, who likes it, how they like it, and more. Read on:

choking kink

Choking (also known as sexual asphyxiation) has exploded in the past few decades from niche kink to mainstream sexual practice. Most young people who’ve had sex have experimented with choking, and several of them make it a part of every sexual experience. 

The power dynamic of a good choke gives pleasure both ways, and couples are becoming more fluid about who gives and receives the asphyxiation. Airway constriction is a dangerous game, however, and it’s important to understand the risks. 

We put a firm grip on the foremost research and squeezed out the data on who likes being choked, how they like it, and more. 

Here are some choking Kink stats that will take your breath away:

  • A study of undergraduates found that 73.3% of women who had experienced vaginal or anal sex had been choked before. 
  • Of people who have been choked sexually, 18.1% of women, 28.3% of men, and 7.6% of trans/non-binary individuals said their partner choked them without asking. 
  • An undergraduate study found that transgender/non-binary individuals are more likely to begin sexual choking before age 18 and more likely to gain consent for choking than men or women.
  • Autoerotic asphyxiation causes an estimated 250 to 1,000 deaths annually in the U.S. 
  • Over one-quarter of women (27.4%) and transgender/non-binary (26.8%) undergrads say they’ve asked to be choked more than 5 times. 
  • 73.6% of people who enjoy sexual choking initially ask to be choked simply because it seems exciting.

What Is A Choking Kink?

  • Sexual asphyxiation – AKA erotic asphyxiation (EA) or choking – is when a person plays with their own air supply without a partner. (WebMD, 2020)1
  • Erotic Asphyxiation is the consensual restriction of air for one partner for a brief time, also called breath play or airplay. Without a partner, this is called autoerotic asphyxiation. (Psychology Today, 2021)2
  • Sexual asphyxiation is choking someone for sexual pleasure (breath play). (WebMD, 2020)1

How Common Are Choking Kinks?

You’ve probably experienced a lover who wants to choke or be choked; in fact, it can start to feel like everyone’s into it these days. 

But just how common is it really? The numbers vary, but we’ve noticed that studies of younger people have drastically higher rates of choking, implying that breath play isn’t as common among older folks. 

Here’s a look at the numbers.

  • A 2016 survey found that 21% of women and 11% of men ages 18 to 60 had been choked during sex. 12% of women and 20% of men had choked a partner during sex. (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2021)3
  • A study of undergraduate students found that 47.3% of the participants (who had experienced any kind of partnered sex) had been choked before. This breaks down by gender in the following percentages: (The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2021)4
    • 64.4% of women.
    • 29.1% of men.
    • 55.5% of Transgender/Non-binary people. 
  • Of students with vaginal or anal sex experience, the following percentages reported being choked before: (The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2021)4
    • 73.3% of women. 
    • 30.4% of men. 
    • 63.6% of Transgender/Non-binary people. 
  • Of all undergraduate students with any sexual experience, 43% had choked a partner. (The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2021)4
  • Of all undergraduate women in the study – including those who had never had sex – 57.8% reported being choked during sex. (The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2021)4
  • Of all undergraduate students, these percentages reported having choked someone sexually: (The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2021)4
    • Total – 3,571 total participants
      • Never – 2,265 (57.0%)
      • Once or twice – 552 (13.9%)
      • 3-5 times – 383 (9.6%)
      • More than 5 times – 774 (19.5%)
    • Women – 1,829 total women participants
      • Never – 1,447 (72.4%)
      • Once or twice – 234 (11.7%)
      • 3-5 times – 142 (7.1%)
      • More than 5 times – 175 (8.7%)
    • Men – 1,779 total men participants
      • Never – 788 (41.3%)
      • Once or twice – 310 (16.2%)
      • 3-5 times – 231 (12.1%)
      • More than 5 times – 581 (30.4%)
    • Trans/Non-Binary – 57 total Trans/Non-Binary participants
      • Never – 29 (45.2%)
      • Once or twice – 8 (13.0%)
      • 3-5 times – 9 (14.6%)
      • More than 5 times – 18 (27.3%)
  • A study of gay and bisexual men found that 8.1% had engaged in breath play or asphyxiation. (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2010)5
  • A study of lesbian and bisexual women found that 5.2% engaged in breath play or asphyxiation. (The Journal of Sex Research, 2009)6
  • One study analyzed the sexual behaviors of women in the kink community with the following results: (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2015)7
    • 23.61% of women are choking their partners during sex.
    • 51.52% of women are being choked by their partners during sex.
    • 57.59% of women are being choked by their partner and/or choking their partner during sex.
    • 37.91% of women have observed the activity of choking during sex.
    • 66.84% of women have participated, in any form, in choking during sex.
  • A study of women who’ve engaged in sexual choking found the following data on how many partners they’ve done it with: (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2021)3
    • 1 partner
      • Been choked by partner(s) – 29.2%
      • Have choked partner(s) – 29.2% 
    • 2 to 5 partners
      • Been choked by partner(s) – 54.2% 
      • Have choked partner(s) – 21.0% 
    • 6 partners or more
      • Been choked by partner(s) – 8.30% 
      • Have choked partner(s) – 4.2% 

Choking and Consent

Choking can be a deadly activity, so consent is absolutely critical. However, large percentages of people report having been choked without their partner asking or bringing it up. 

Men are the most likely to be choked without consent, but fewer than 1 in 5 women have the same issue. Here’s the data.

  • A study of undergraduate students found the following data on how often they asked to choke or be choked during sex: (The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2021)4
    • Asked someone to choke you during sex
      • Total
        • Never – 2,603 (65.5%)
        • Once or Twice – 418 (10.5%)
        • 3-5 Times – 304 (7.6%)
        • More than 5 times – 650 (16.3%)
      • Women
        • Never – 945 (47.3%)
        • Once or Twice – 283 (14.2%)
        • 3-5 Times – 223 (11.2%)
        • More than 5 times – 548 (27.4%)
      • Men
        • Never – 908 (85.0%)
        • Once or Twice – 289 (6.9%)
        • 3-5 Times – 237 (3.8%)
        • More than 5 times – 453 (4.3%)
      • Trans/Non-Binary
        • Never – 32 (42.0%)
        • Once or Twice – 4 (5.0%)
        • 3-5 Times – 8 (10.5%)
        • More than 5 times – 21 (26.8%)
    • Someone asked you to choke them as part of sex
      • Total
        • Never – 2,425 (61.6%)
        • Once or Twice – 522 (13.3%)
        • 3-5 Times – 385 (9.8%)
        • More than 5 times – 606 (15.4%)
      • Women
        • Never – 1,489 (75.0%)
        • Once or Twice – 222 (11.2%)
        • 3-5 Times – 140 (7.1%)
        • More than 5 times – 134 (6.7%)
      • Men
        • Never – 1,624 (48.1%)
        • Once or Twice – 131 (15.3%)
        • 3-5 Times – 73 (12.5%)
        • More than 5 times – 82 (24.0%)
      • Trans/Non-Binary
        • Never – 28 (43.3%)
        • Once or Twice – 11 (17.2%)
        • 3-5 Times – 8 (12.0%)
        • More than 5 times – 18 (27.5%)
  • When participants were asked about consent, the same study found the following data: (The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2021)4
    • Total
      • “They always asked if I wanted to be choked/if it was okay before they choked me” – 879 (47.4%)
      • “They sometimes asked me for consent/if it was okay” – 590 (31.8%)
      • “They never asked me for consent/if it was okay; they just choked me.” – 387 (20.9%)
    • Women
      • “They always asked if I wanted to be choked/if it was okay before they choked me” – 611 (48.0%)
      • “They sometimes asked me for consent/if it was okay” – 431 (33.9%)
      • “They never asked me for consent/if it was okay; they just choked me.” – 230 ( 18.1%)
    • Men
      • “They always asked if I wanted to be choked/if it was okay before they choked me” – 247 (45.1%)
      • “They sometimes asked me for consent/if it was okay” – 146 (26.6%)
      • “They never asked me for consent/if it was okay; they just choked me.” – 155 (28.3%)
    • Trans/Non-Binary
      • “They always asked if I wanted to be choked/if it was okay before they choked me” – 21 (58.5%)
      • “They sometimes asked me for consent/if it was okay” – 12 (33.9%)
      • “They never asked me for consent/if it was okay; they just choked me.” – 3 (7.6%)

When Do People Start Sexual Asphyxiation?

All things have to start somewhere, and erotic asphyxiation is no exception. Transgender/non-binary individuals start younger than men or women, but the average is still around 18 years old. 

Here’s some info on how and when people get started with choking.

  • 18.4 years old was the mean age at which students in one study were first choked sexually. Mean ages by gender are as follows: (The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2021)4
    • Women – 18.4 years old
    • Men – 18.5 years old
    • Transgender/Non-binary – 18.0 years old
  • Of those in the study who had been choked sexually, the following percentages by gender were first choked before the age of 18: (The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2021)4
    • Women – 26.8%
    • Men – 22.9%
    • Transgender/Non-binary – 36.0%
  • A study of women found that they first learned of sexual choking from the following sources: (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2021)3
    • Partner – 37.5%
    • Pornography – 25.0%
    • Media/movies/magazine – 16.7%
    • Social media – 8.3%
    • Friends – 8.3%
    • Fanfiction – 4.2%

The Dangers of a Choking Kink

This kind of goes without saying, but choking is dangerous. Cutting off someone’s airway or constricting their arteries can be fatal if done incorrectly. 

Here’s some data on the dangers of erotic asphyxiation.

  • Sexual asphyxiation can cause broken facial blood vessels, hoarseness of voice, or trouble swallowing. Death is a real risk, and risks increase for those with high blood pressure or high cholesterol. (WebMD, 2020)1
  • Autoerotic asphyxiation causes an estimated 250 to 1,000 deaths annually in the U.S. (Case Reports in Psychiatry, 2016)8
  • Pressure on the carotid arteries is the usual cause of death by erotic asphyxiation. The pressure can cause an individual to pass out and go limp. (WebMD, 2020)1
  • In one study, 2.1% of participants who had ever been choked during sex reported having passed out. (The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2021)4
  • 1.9% of women and 2.0% of men reported ever having passed out from erotic choking. (The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2021)4
  • Since 2010, the U.K. has seen a 90% increase in criminal cases where “rough sex” or “sex gone wrong” was used in the defense – all of which involved a male offender. (Journal of Criminal Law, 2020)9
  • A woman who’s suffered nonfatal strangulation from an intimate partner is 750% more likely to be killed by the same partner with a gun. (Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention, 2020)10

Why Do People Love Getting Choked?

It seems odd that we would find sexual gratification in the restriction of our breathing, so why do we do it?

It typically starts with curiosity and excitement, but many people find that they like it. Here’s some data on why people engage in erotic asphyxiation.

  • Participants in one study gave the following reasons for asking their partner to choke them: (The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2021)4
    • Total
      • “It seemed exciting” – 73.6%
      • “I thought it would arouse the person” – 29.7%
      • “I thought it would make it easier for me to have an orgasm” – 22.2%
      • “I’d seen it in porn and wanted to try it” – 13.0%
      • “A friend had told me they liked to be choked, and I wanted to try it too” – 13.0%
      • “It seemed kinky or adventurous” – 62.1%
      • “Other” – 13.1%
    • Women
      • “It seemed exciting” – 72.9%
      • “I thought it would arouse the person” – 28.3%
      • “I thought it would make it easier for me to have an orgasm” – 22.7%
      • “I’d seen it in porn and wanted to try it” – 9.9%
      • “A friend had told me they liked to be choked, and I wanted to try it too” – 12.1%
      • “It seemed kinky or adventurous” – 61.0%
      • “Other” – 13.6%
    • Men
      • “It seemed exciting” – 75.0%
      • “I thought it would arouse the person” – 34.8%
      • “I thought it would make it easier for me to have an orgasm” – 18.4%
      • “I’d seen it in porn and wanted to try it” – 22.5%
      • “A friend had told me they liked to be choked and I wanted to try it too” – 16.5%
      • “It seemed kinky or adventurous” – 66.3%
      • “Other” – 9.4%
    • Trans/Non-Binary
      • “It seemed exciting” – 82.7%
      • “I thought it would arouse the person” – 31.2%
      • “I thought it would make it easier for me to have an orgasm” – 39.0%
      • “I’d seen it in porn and wanted to try it” – 26.8%
      • “A friend had told me they liked to be choked and I wanted to try it too” – 12.4%
      • “It seemed kinky or adventurous” – 61.8%
      • “Other” – 28.9%
  • Participants in the same study gave the following reasons for choking their partners: (The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2021)4
    • Total
      • “They asked me to choke them” – 77.8%
      • “It seemed exciting” – 38.0%
      • “I thought it would arouse the person” – 41.2%
      • “I thought it would make it easier for them to have an orgasm” – 17.1%
      • “I’d seen it in porn and wanted to try it” – 8.8%
      • “A friend had told me they liked choking, and I wanted to try it too” – 5.7%
      • “It seemed kinky or adventurous” – 41.3%
      • “Other” – 3.5%
    • Women
      • “They asked me to choke them” – 60.8%
      • “It seemed exciting” – 40.7%
      • “I thought it would arouse the person” – 44.1%
      • “I thought it would make it easier for them to have an orgasm” – 13.0%
      • “I’d seen it in porn and wanted to try it” – 3.3%
      • “A friend had told me they liked choking, and I wanted to try it too” – 3.8%
      • “It seemed kinky or adventurous” – 40.8%
      • “Other” – 4.8%
    • Men
      • “They asked me to choke them” – 85.8%
      • “It seemed exciting” – 36.6%
      • “I thought it would arouse the person” – 39.9%
      • “I thought it would make it easier for them to have an orgasm” – 19.0%
      • “I’d seen it in porn and wanted to try it” – 11.6%
      • “A friend had told me they liked choking, and I wanted to try it too” – 6.7%
      • “It seemed kinky or adventurous” – 42.1%
      • “Other” – 2.8%
    • Trans/Non-Binary
      • “They asked me to choke them” – 86.8%
      • “It seemed exciting” – 38.1%
      • “I thought it would arouse the person” – 34.5%
      • “I thought it would make it easier for them to have an orgasm” – 19.0%
      • “I’d seen it in porn and wanted to try it” – 5.6%
      • “A friend had told me they liked choking, and I wanted to try it too” – 3.5%
      • “It seemed kinky or adventurous” – 24.7%
      • “Other” – 4.4%

How Do People Choke?

Are there right or wrong ways to choke? Yes, absolutely.

We dove into a study that interviewed women on choking positions, styles, and levels of intensity. Here’s what we found. 

  • One study asked women about different choking styles and positions with the following results: (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2021)3
    • Sex acts where choking can be applied:
      • While kissing
        • …we were kissing, and he had choked me… And then it happened when we had sex.
        • like basically like whether when like they’re kissing me or it’s like in the moment.
      • Partner on top
        • I’d say 90% of the time he’s on top.
        • It’s uh usually during intercourse, but um, it’s usually when he’s on top, so it’s in a position where he can easily do it, and um, if he’s not on top, it’s never really happened.
        • So if, um, we’re in a position where I’m on the bottom, and he’s on top of me, it’s pretty like natural…
      • Partner behind
        • …we were on the bed and um, like he was behind me, and I was like, I was like face down into like the bed, and then it was basically the same type of choke, like just, um, right on the back of my neck, fingers gripping to the side….
      • Athletic sex
        • …there was definitely a lot of choking involved, and it was like rough and like very like a huge physical workout. Um, and yeah, it really sweaty, but it was like that was so different from anything I had had before because it like required a lot of um, flexibility, and strength to do that. So that was definitely different, and yeah, the choking was yeah, more intense, and there was like, there was just a lot of things going on. It’s like the position I’m in like kind of hurts or requires a lot of muscle, plus I’m being choked plus also penetrated.
    • Type of restriction:
      • Airway
        • Um, one is more comfortable than the other. Um, like if too much pressure is put on the sides of my neck, then like my vision goes blurry and then, um, he sees that and like will quick let go… pressure on the front is ideal.
      • Blood vessels
        • …what I prefer is that you actually like move your hand to slightly out and press hard with your fingers and like, it’s not just like, it’s not just like pushing in, it’s like pressure and out and that’s what feels the best. And then like leaving space for my trachea so that it’s not a thing about not breathing, it’s about of like, so yeah, I’m not getting oxygen to my brain, but it’s not because I’m not breathing. It’s because you’re like, just like shutting down like oxygenation a different way.
    • Hand position on neck:
      • Lower (neck base)
        • …So not like too high, I think like around here [by collarbone].
      • Middle
        • It’s just like, they’re like a hand pressing down (one hand around the middle).
        • I’d say in the middle [of the neck].
      • Upper (by chin)
        • …I think it was like high on my neck.
    • How they implement choking:
      • One hand
        • It’s usually one hand, not two hands.
        • …I would say most people use one [hand]….
      • Two hands
        • With a past hookup, I’m pretty sure it was two [hands].
      • Arm
        • So just like an arm, like, like the forearm, but like that’s all. Pressing.
      • Belt
        • The person was behind me…They actually used a belt…Yeah, I think I probably knew it was happening cause I like saw them grabbed for the belt, but it’s not like we like sat down and was like, Hey, is it cool if I choke you with my belt?
      • Penis
        • I have been choked by, um, for one, I didn’t know in terms of like when they come to, came to oral sex side, deep throating can cause you to choke, and that kind of made me know, like played into one of the reasons why I didn’t like to commit oral sex, but I like having it done on me because of like choking aspect and everything like that.
  • The same study asked participants about the level of pressure they preferred for sexual choking: (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2021)3
    • Light pressure
      • I would basically describe that as like, I don’t want to be like choke choked, but I want to like, I want you to be like gentle with it.
      • …I would say it’s just been around the throat with enough pressure that I can feel them kind of holding it almost as if you would like hold someone’s hand.
      • …like light, I just like, it’s just nice to have like warmth around your neck. It feels kind of affectionate, I guess.
    • Medium pressure
      • Probably like a good medium. I don’t want to; it’s too light where it’s like I don’t feel anything or like too hard for like, I’m like having a hard time breathing, and it’s not enjoyable anymore.
      • …just like medium pressure on the front is ideal.
    • Hard pressure
      • I like a lot of pressure.
      • …like you’re putting on a lot of pressure on me, but not to the point where it’s actually like causing me pain, but also knowing like you have, you physically have more power, you’re refraining yourself.
      • We didn’t really know how much pressure to put. Um, and we both had this problem of like when you’re choking, um, like, um, like putting a little too much pressure on the trachea as opposed to like the carotid and jugular arteries and stuff. Um, so yeah, it was more painful, and we like would cough a lot.

Why Does Choking Feel Good?

It’s hard to understand why people engage in sexual asphyxiation, but the following data points shed some light on the phenomenon. 

  • One sexologist says that choking creates a power exchange allowing the choked to experience power and the receiver to experience a total lack of control. (Hello Giggles, 2021)11
  • One intimacy coach says that choking clears her mind of heaviness and that it heightens sensations. (Hello Giggles, 2021)11

Conclusion

Sexual asphyxiation is one of the fastest-growing kinks in the world, and it can be as simple as a gentle squeeze on your partner’s throat. It’s far more popular with younger people than it is in the overall population, but it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. 

Choking transcends traditional gender roles and power dynamics, as both men and women enjoy choking and being choked. However, men are least likely to be choked with their consent, whereas transgender/non-binary individuals are most likely to gain consent first. 

Most people (at least those who attend college) start choking around the age of 18. It’s usually safe, but it’s important to listen to your partner and be conscious of the dangers of choking during sex. 

People choke and get choked in a variety of different styles and positions. Some love it hard, while others only need a light grip to get off. The most important thing is to communicate with your partner and find what works for both of you. 

Sexual asphyxiation allows us to infuse sex with a controlled power dynamic. It can heighten the sensation and intensity of sexual passion and help us experience dominant or submissive roles we aren’t traditionally used to. As long as it’s practiced safely and consensually, it’s a fantastic way to spice up your sexual experience. 

For more interesting sex studies and statistics, head over to our guide here.


Footnotes

  1. WebMD, 2020. An article on the different aspects of sexual asphyxiation, safety advice, and more.
  2. Psychology Today, 2021. A medically-reviewed article on the psychology behind breath play, such as choking, authored by David W. Wahl, Ph.D.
  3. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2021. A study on sexual asphyxiation in 24 American undergraduate and graduate students aged 18 to 33.
  4. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2021. A study on diverse sexual behaviors in a random sample of 4,989 undergraduate students.
  5. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2010. A survey on risky sexual behaviors in 1,214 gay and bisexual men.
  6. The Journal of Sex Research, 2009. A study of kinky sexual behaviors in 347 urban lesbian and bisexual women.
  7. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2015. A study on various types of erotic behaviors using data from 1,580 women in the kink community.
  8. Case Reports in Psychiatry, 2016. A study on asphyxiophilia – the love of being choked sexually – and its characteristics as a mental illness.
  9. Journal of Criminal Law, 2020. An academic article on the “rough sex” defense sometimes used to downgrade murder charges to manslaughter.
  10. Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention, 2020. An article on the indicators of strangulation as deadly abuse rather than sexual play.
  11. Hello Giggles, 2021. An article on the rising popularity and dubious safety of sexual asphyxiation.
Dainis Graveris

Dainis Graveris

Over last 4 years Dainis have helped millions of people through his advice on this site (200+ guides and 1M+ visits/monthly). His work & advice has appeared on sites like: Healthline, Vice, Cosmopolitan, Men's Health, WomensHealthMag, MindBodyGreen & more. Read More

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